by Dr. Ken Matto

(1 Sam 13:8-9 KJV) And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. {9} And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

In the above verses we read about the end of Saul’s reign. Saul was waiting for Samuel to come to him and offer the burnt sacrifice unto the Lord. It was seven days past the time which Samuel had said he would arrive. Saul became anxious and instead of waiting, he decided to offer the burnt sacrifice himself. Then when he offered the offering, Samuel had arrived on the scene. What transpired here was Saul was not sanctioned by the Lord to offer any sacrifices, that was the responsibility of the priest. Samuel was a judge, prophet, and a Levite. When Saul made that sacrifice, he had failed the test of waiting upon the Lord and the Lord’s timing. The seven days that Saul had to wait was a test of his faith. Saul failed that test by making the sacrifice which caused him to lose his kingdom only two years into his reign. He made a hasty decision which affected the remainder of his life.

Two weeks ago I was watching The Apprentice on TV starring Donald Trump. He had one of the women, named Ivana, bring three people into the boardroom and one of them was going to be fired. One of the people she brought in was a man named Bradford who is an attorney. He came into the boardroom with an exemption that he could not be fired because his team won the first round and he was the project leader. However, inside the boardroom as the conversation unfolded, Bradford decided to waive his exemption, which means now he was able to be fired. He was leveling the playing field with the other three so all four had an equal opportunity to be fired. According to Donald Trump, he thought Bradford was the best candidate in the room because he showed so much initiative and business sense. However, he made the impulsive decision to waive his exemption because he thought he was so good, there was no way he would get fired. In the end of the segment, Donald Trump called the move by Bradford, “Stupid,” and while deciding which one to fire, he chose to fire Bradford, simply because an impulsive decision “can,“ according to Donald Trump, “wreck an entire company.” Quite frankly I agree with Mr. Trump. Impulsive decisions have always had a detrimental effect on people.

Before I became a Christian in late 1980, I was an impulsive spender, but I didn’t have the money to spend so I bought everything I wanted to with my credit cards. Needless to say at that time, the interest rates for purchases were 18-21%, depending on the cards you had. I normally had a credit balance on my cards and personal loans of about $8,000 on a steady basis. When I became a Christian, I was about $15,000 in debt which included both credit cards and personal loans. When I drank, I took out cash advances to drink in bars. So that shows you how much I concerned myself with making informed and proper decisions. If I would have placed all the money I spent on booze in those years in a good mutual fund, with the power of compounding interest working for me, instead of against me, I would be a millionaire today. Parents should sit down and explain the principle of compounding interest to their children. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to bring someone in to your church on a week night and explain it to the whole congregation. It might save some marriages. We talk about sex, alcohol, drugs, and all the other life ruining things to our children, but how many teach them the power of compounding interest. More families are ruined over the mishandling of money than other things.

Impulsivity can be a very dangerous rule to live by. An impulsive person is a danger to themselves and also to those around them. An impulsive person does not think out their actions. Saul did not realize that he was breaking the law of God when he offered the sacrifice, instead he thought that God would look favorably upon his action and bless him. The only reward for his actions was the loss of his kingdom. Did he not realize that even though Samuel tarried that God was still in control of the situation? When Bradford thought he was being noble in the boardroom, he did not realize that his action was, as Donald Trump put it, “a life altering decision.” He was so caught up in his own self-importance, he forgot to realize that he was not judging his actions, but Donald Trump was.

Impulsivity always carries with it a major ripple effect. I found that out when the bills came due each month. It took ten minutes to make a purchase and years to pay it off. The ripple effect was that I was working for my creditors at high interest rates. From all those things I bought in that era, I have nothing left, which means I spent thousands of dollars, for invisible products. What I thought was important, time proved otherwise. There are other impulsive things that we do which will have life altering effects. How many people get married on an impulse only to be divorced a few months later. Anticipation very rarely represents reality. Anticipation pumps us up while reality deflates us. The problem with climbing the highest mountain is when you get to the top, it is cold and barren. All the green fields are in the valleys.

Let us look at some verses in the book of Proverbs which deals with a person being hasty.

(Prov 14:29 KJV) He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

Those who can control their temper will find much less body pain, especially if the person they are fighting is tougher then them. Those who rush to fight are just plain fools because they do not realize that they are also in jeopardy.

(Prov 21:5 KJV) The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.

The ones who think out their lives and try to plan to the best of their ability attempt to avoid the major pitfalls of life. Those who are hasty or impulsive, live from quick decision to quick decision without concern for the effect it may have on their life and those around them. It is like a couple planning a vacation and they pack sun tan lotion, bathing suits, and other beachwear but then they go to the airport and read a travel sign for the Yukon, so instead of Bermuda, on an impulse they go to the Yukon. When they get there, they find they cannot use the clothes they packed in -20 degree weather. The problem is that they were unprepared for their destination. They prepared for one place only to change on a whim. This is the essence of impulsiveness, as the decision is made impulsively, the effects may carry you away to a destination that you are unprepared for. Saul was not prepared for the fact that his action cost him his kingdom. Bradford was not prepared for the fact that he lost his opportunity to win the presidency of a Trump company.

Prov 29:20 KJV) Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

How many have shot off their mouths in a moment and have taken a dare which have cost them their lives? People like to think of themselves as superman or superwoman and want others to think we are too. Hasty words are given less hope than a fool has. We need to think out our verbal responses before we offer a suggestion or our services. Sometimes we offer our services thinking we are capable of doing something and we only mess things up worse because we finally come face to face with the reality that our abilities do not equal our words and that is a certainty we must live by.

Impulsiveness can ruin a life and can ruin multiple lives because no one can sin in private, there is always a ripple effect to others. We must think out decisions before we make them, even if they seem so small and insignificant. Remember, a seed grows up to be a big tree. A small decision made wrongly can affect you adversely for years to come. God will guide us into the truth and will be there to guide our decisions. He will never leave us and stand back to watch us fail. The Lord not only promised us eternal life, but while we are here, as the Great Shepherd, He is watching over His flock and He does not desire you to fail, unless that failure will lead to a watershed event in your life, which means that failure will actually be a victory in disguise. Impulsiveness is something we can live without.    (9/24/03)